The privacy-first future brings us back to a centuries-old challenge. Let’s begin with the state of measurement at large. It’s not new news that evolving privacy changes are impacting advertisers’ abilities to measure ad effectiveness consistently and accurately. This is an industry-wide pain-point.
In fact, a recent Insider Intelligence survey shows that less than two-thirds of marketing professionals worldwide have high confidence in their ROI measurement across key digital ad channels. And as the deprecation of third-party cookies looms, confidence in certain channels could plummet.
It was more than 100 years ago that John Wanamaker, famous for his department stores and advertising, declared, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
Since then, we’ve seen changes in technology and the ads industry that would be unimaginable to Wanamaker or anyone of his time that have allowed us to close this gap considerably and move towards cross-media, cross-platform, and truly actionable measurement. However, over the last five years we’ve also seen privacy changes in legislation (such as GDPR in 2018 and CCPA in 2020) and at the platform level (most notably, Apple’s ATT changes) that have allowed for more consumer control and required fresh thinking for the measurement industry.
How to adapt to these changes
To adapt to these changes, we need to re-focus on why and how we measure. Of course, a major role of any measurement study is to inform an advertiser on effectiveness, but it’s also imperative that measurement helps an advertiser improve and generates trust in a platform, through both its results and its methodologies.
On one hand, this means investing in measurement ‘verification’ solutions, like Viewability, IVT, and Brand Safety. At Reddit, we have partnerships (and direct, privacy-friendly integrations) with trusted industry partners like DoubleVerify, Oracle MOAT, Oracle Data Cloud, and HUMAN.
On the other hand, we need to work pragmatically. We need to look for the ‘measurement panacea’ but also consider that it may not exist, and work in parallel for the next best thing.
Platforms need to build privacy-friendly solutions that either require no advertiser-owned data yet still offer good insight (like Brand Lift and some Geo-Lift solutions), or mechanisms like Conversions APIs that allow us to receive a privacy-friendly amount of advertiser-owned data and deliver greater insight (like Conversion Lift and other Geo-Lift solutions).
We also need to embrace mixed-method measurement, where measurement solutions work together to enhance each other. Here, we may see a multi-touch attribution (MTA) model or Media Mix Model (MMM) deliver a good amount of insight across a media plan and be informed by Conversion Lift results to add specificity and enhance accuracy for individual platforms.
Collaboration and learning are key
Having determined which solutions to use as your Measurement Source of Truth, the next thing to consider is how and when to use them.
We find that the advertisers who advance the most on Reddit and end up with the strongest results are often the ones who embrace continuous learning mindsets, but this does not mean they use all available measurement solutions on all of their campaigns. Instead, we see the greatest advancement from advertisers who bring a collaborative approach to measurement through what we call ‘learning agendas.’ They work with us, openly, to discuss what they believe is true on Reddit, what they’re not sure about, what they want to learn, and what they’ll do differently based on the results. We then work together to find the right campaigns to test with, we assess the results and what drove them, and agree what we’ve learnt and how this should be applied to their ‘business-as-usual’ media planning.
The marketing industry has changed beyond recognition since the days of John Wanamaker, but one thing that remains the same is that it’s full of brilliant communicators and collaborators, and by taking these skills and implementing continuous learning mindsets, we will continue to advance both our campaigns and our brands.